You may be a faithfully brushing your teeth as recommended by your dentist. While this commendable and an important part of an oral health regimen, flossing is equally important. Brushing your teeth only affects the bacteria and particles that are easy to reach and remove. This bacteria joins with saliva and food particles to form plaque, a sticky but clear and colorless substance that adheres to your teeth. Plaque is a preferred environment for tooth decay and eventually cavities.
This where regular flossing can help. Flossing scrapes away the plaque that your toothbrush cannot reach in places such as in between your teeth. However, flossing correctly is important. As the old saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Flossing can be that ounce of prevention, keeping you from having to endure painful, time-consuming and potentially costly dental procedures. These are the procedures that may become necessary due to tooth decay being allowed to flourish unchecked between teeth.
How to Floss
- Wrap around your middle fingers a length of floss about eighteen inches long. You will use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss. Be sure to wind more around one finger than the other so you can wind the soiled used floss toward the finger with less floss wrapped around it and use a fresh length.
- Insert the floss between two teeth and use a gentle “sawing” motion all the way from the top of the teeth down to their base where they erupt from your gums.
- Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth, making a “U” shape then move up and down your tooth gently. Repeat this several times, making sure to push it slightly underneath the gum-line, then repeat on the other side of the tooth.
- Again make sure you continue winding up the floss around your finger so that you’re using a clean length of floss for each space between your teeth that you floss.
Things to Know
Many consumers prefer to use floss picks, which are “Y” shaped pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y”. Although using this is better than not flossing at all, dentists prefer using a length of “free” floss and your hands. Floss picks are flawed when it comes to proper flossing as you cannot wrap them around a tooth in the “U” shape recommended above due to it being already strung in a straight line.
Special thick and fuzzy, “Super floss” is also available. This type is used to floss between widely-spaced teeth. Alternatively, for teeth with very little space between them, squeezing even regular floss in between can be difficult. Floss can become stuck, shred or even break in the tight spaces between teeth. These frustrations can lead to people choosing not to floss. Waxed floss is available to help you with this problem.
Whatever kind of floss you choose make sure that it is American Dental Association approved to be safe for use. You should use each length of floss one time only. Excised bacteria can linger on floss and make you sick if reintroduced later.
Research suggests flossing after your brush as there will already be less plaque and food particles for the floss to remove, allowing it to do a better job of clearing the space. If you have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health, call 941.209.4315 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Nish Patel today.